How can I tell if a phone booster is illegal?
There’s a lot of confusion at the moment about mobile phone boosters and repeaters. Here’s a question for you: Did you know that all Mobile Phone Boosters and Repeaters (except for one type) are banned in all States and Territories of Australia?
‘But I saw some really legit Aussie looking websites selling other boosters!’
Yes, so did we. We see them around the www often. The most commonly seen site selling illegal boosters and repeaters to unsuspecting Aussies at the moment is a website called mobilerepeatersaustralia.com. It’s a site that does its best to look legit, but we can assure you, its products for sale are absolutely not.
We have even seen it as a sponsored ad on Google directly underneath an article on the legalities of repeaters! Irony at its best.
Buyer beware though! These websites display the official logos of ‘Telstra’ ‘Optus’ and ‘Vodafone’ all over their pages. They have an official looking ‘15 day money back guarantee’ stamp image on the website (which means nothing because it’s not an Australian website, so it would take at least that long just to ship it back, even if you could find the supplier). The website even has a cute little picture of the Aussie flag on the top of the site, just to make the Aussie buyer feel a higher level of affinity for the site.
All of these convincing little images are designed to instil confidence in the business and to create the impression that they aren’t selling illegal equipment to you.
Unfortunately, in Australia though, their products are highly illegal. And if you get caught possessing or using one in Australia, there are hefty fines where you may end up having to pay up to $360,000. There is also the potential for gaol time of up to two years.
So how are they getting away with this?
According to a source at ACMA, this particular slippery little operation was based in Brisbane a couple of years ago. They were placed under investigation by the AFP and ACMA, and so quickly closed shop and moved their operations to an unknown overseas location (they suspect it’s on the Caymen Islands or somewhere similar where they’re not considered illegal goods).
They apparently change their website and business name every few months, when it builds up a bad name again.
They have no physical address. A Google Street View of the address listed on their website revealed that the business had a “virtual mailbox”; similar to a PO Box, but with the appearance of a street address.
The website domain does not end in the .com.au extension because to apply for a website ending in .com.au the applicant must be a registered Australian business holding an ABN number.
Also, their phone number has been spoofed. They use a VoIP call forwarding service to obtain a spoofed Australian phone number. So, they know a few tricks.
But, what about the official looking Australian Telco logos?
Short answer; those images are being used without consent.
Anyone can paste any logo on to a website. But once a company moves overseas it becomes very difficult to chase up an investigation as it becomes ‘out of jurisdiction’, which slows everything down almost to a halt. That coupled with an operation that picks up and moves base every few months or so, makes it almost impossible for our Telcos to enforce the removal of their logos.
Telstra, when asked about this website using their logo, said “We are undergoing further investigations. We cannot provide any more comment than that”.
So if their websites are so convincing, how can I ever tell if I’m buying a legal repeater or an illegal one?
Simple. At this stage, there is only one legal repeater system in Australia.
So, if it’s not a ‘Cel-Fi Smart Repeater’ system, it’s not legal to use here. These are the systems that we at Signal Fox install for our customers. It’s ‘top-shelf’ technology. They work like a dream giving you 5 full bars of crystal clear reception. They’re usually installed with an external antenna to pick up a good quality signal so that it can repeat indoors at full strength.
To sum up, all repeaters that Signal Fox sell and install are 100% legal to use here in Australia. The Smart Antenna CelFi units are licensed to you by us on behalf of your carrier upon purchasing.